The Dentist Magazine.

New stats show Northern Ireland dentists are “at breaking point”

Published: 9/4/2018 12:00:00 AM

The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned that general dental practitioners are “at breaking point”. 

The comments were made as the dentists’ trade union responded to the publication of NHS Digital Dental Earnings and Expenses, and Dental Working Hours reports that examine morale and motivation levels within the profession. 

The reports highlight a number of stark findings among Health Service practitioners:

  • There has been an unprecedented drop in real incomes for practice-owning dentists of 38 per cent since 2008.
  • Taxable income for practice owners in Northern Ireland has reduced by 15 per cent in the last year alone.
  • 70 per cent of practice owners, and over half of associates describe their morale as ‘low’ or ‘very low’.
  • Nearly two-thirds of dentists are considering leaving the profession.

Commenting on the findings, Richard Graham, chair of the BDA NI’s Dental Practice Committee, said, “This official data paints a particularly bleak picture of what GDPs in Northern Ireland have been warning about for some time. Nine years of successive government imposed pay caps, soaring expenses, increased regulation, the risk of litigation and rising indemnity fees, at the same time as direct cuts on the GDS budget, has created this downward spiral. The full financial impact, and the very real human impact is clearly evidenced by the government’s own figures.

“The situation where high street dentists have suffered a real term 38 per cent decline in income levels over the past decade, to the point where the majority question their future in the profession, is as serious as it gets.

“Our message to the Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Board at this time, is they need to act now to ensure the future sustainability of Health Service dentistry. Morale and earnings are at crisis point. Only meaningful investment in dental services, and the professionals who underpin these will safeguard a future for Health Service dentistry”.